Favorite Five Science Fantasy Novels
What is Science Fantasy? It’s a subgenre of SFF that blends elements from both Science Fiction and Fantasy within one work. I often like to refer to Star Wars as Science Fantasy because it takes place in space and there are space ships and such, but there’s also The Force which is pretty Fantasy to me (no matter how Lucas tried to retcon that later–I can’t hear you, lalalalala).
Here’s a few of my favorites that fit the bill:
- Dragonflight (The Dragonriders of Pern) by Anne McCaffrey
Dragonflight is the first book (in publication order) in McCaffrey’s most well-known series, The Dragonriders of Pern. Pern is a place where dragons exist. They work with their dragonriders to help safeguard Pern against an external threat known as Thread–a destructive organism that falls from the sky destroying everything it touches. When we first see Pern here there hasn’t been a threadfall in hundreds of years and the weyrs (where the dragons and dragonriders live) have fallen into disrepair. Some lords of the land no longer see them as vital to survival and don’t want to support them anymore (the lord holders must tithe a portion of their income/goods to their local weyr). But is the threat really gone for good? I love this series, even though I admit some of it can feel a bit dated, it’s still one of my favorites. McCaffrey always insisted, from what I understand, that Pern was Science Fiction. But there are also dragons, and kind of feudalism, and guilds, and it feels pretty Fantasy. Not to mention the whole ‘between’ thing the dragons use to travel (teleportation) and the way they communicate with each other and their riders (telepathy). In fact, I think a lot of McCaffrey’s works fall into the Science Fantasy category, because a lot of it straddles the line. (She’s on this list twice for a reason.)
- The Gates of Ivory (The Ivory trilogy) by Doris Egan
So, ever since I read the Ivory trilogy I’ve been a bit obsessed with it. I wrote about it in my Favorite Reads of 2017 post, as well as wrote an entire post about the author for the reddit r/fantasy community. It’s just such a fun series! And the perfect example of Science Fantasy in my opinion. The series takes place far in the future, mankind has settled a few planets and Ivory is one of them. Humans have been living there for something like at least 900 years or so, and Ivory (as well as the other planets) have developed their own cultures and such. But Ivory is special because on Ivory, somehow, magic works. Some people have the ability to use it, no one really knows how magic exists there (how does that work? ….magic), or really all of its rules. We have a really interesting mix of tech and magic on Ivory, and even though the world building could have been a little more fleshed out, it still works. This is also a great series if you like a hint of romance. The protagonist, Theodora of Pyrene, may be one of my favorite characters ever–she’s really smart for someone who accidentally got left behind on another planet while on vacation and is now stuck there with no way home.
- Dune by Frank Herbert
I know I just mentioned Dune the other day, but it’s also a really great example of this genre blend, so here it is again! It’s science fiction, but it reads like an epic fantasy–there’s a ton of political intrigue, it’s huge in scope across setting and cast of characters, and there’s the entire spice thing which makes weird mind powers possible so….magic? There’s also prophecy. And giant sandworms (ok, I realize creatures aren’t exclusive to Fantasy but….giant sandworms deserve another mention just because they’re cool. Giant sandworms!). But there’s also interstellar travel and space ships and such. It’s fairly clearly science fiction. Kinda sorta. Anyway, I’d recommend checking out Dune if you’re not sure about Science Fiction but love Epic Fantasy. It’s a good one to ease you into the genre.
- Bronze Gods by A.A. Aguirre
Putting this on here may be cheating a bit because I try not to loop anything Steampunk in with Science Fantasy only because Steampunk feels much more Fantasy than Science Fiction now days anyway. That being said, I really like this duology and I want to talk about it. Bronze Gods is the first of the Apparatus Infernum duology. These books follow two detectives, partners, as they try to solve a murder in their city. The setting here is particularly interesting. A door was opened that tied two worlds together. Within the city steampunk like technology works. They have cars of a sort and other kinds of tech and devices. And yet there are fae. And ghosts. It’s kind of like an Urban Fantasy in a way, but in a secondary world. It also has a sweet romance that I really love. This is just a really interesting blend of things, and I wish that the series had more books to it because I’d happily continue to read them. 🙂
- Damia (The Tower and Hive series) by Anne McCaffrey
The Tower and the Hive series takes place in the somewhat near future. Mankind has colonized space (moons and nearby planets) thanks to folks called Talents. These Talents have powers such as telekinesis, teleportation, telepathy, and empathic abilities. Talents work in strategically placed Towers throughout colonized space where they use their abilities to make interstellar space travel possible. It’s pretty fast to travel between colonies when someone can throw your ship into the void, teleporting it close to where it needs to go, while folks on the receiving end are there to ‘catch’ it. This series is sort of a family saga following a couple of generations of a family of Talents as they encounter both internal and external threats, explore new worlds and make contact with fellow space explorers. Again, this series can feel a little dated (especially some things in the first book, The Rowan, feel kind of fucked up in retrospect) but I still really love this series, but especially Damia (the second book in the series). I’ve probably read Damia at least a dozen times. I just really love her character! This book follows her from a baby all the way up through adulthood. I call this one Science Fantasy as well because extra sensory mind powers are fantasy as far as I’m concerned, and they’re pretty crucial to this entire series.
So, that’s my list. What are your favorite books in this genre? Leave a note in the comments or feel free to link up here with your own post. I’d love to hear from you (and, quite frankly, I’m always looking to add to Mt. TBR)!